Someone forgot to warn our friends in developing countries that cigarette smoking can be hazardous not only to health, but also to economic growth, according to the chairman of BYU's political science department.
Or if the warning was issued, it wasn't properly received by the millions of Third World people who are increasing their consumption of tobacco and threatening their futures, says Stan Taylor.Taylor warns that a demand for rich tar cigarettes in developing countries and an effort by manufacturers to market tobacco products create a deadly combination.
"In a country from which we get a lot of cocaine, Colombia, one writer states that more Colombians are killed by the health effects of U.S. tobacco products than Americans are killed by cocaine from Colombia. That's a staggering statistic," he said.
He concluded, based on data from nearly 200 sources, that cultivating, processing and smoking tobacco all work against the needs of these deflated economies. His controversial report appears in the winter issue of the new Boston-based journal, "Business and the Contemporary World."
"People in developing countries are smoking more, they're smoking worse cigarettes and the health effects of that are accumulative - they're going to be felt more and more," Taylor charged. "That begins to take its toll on labor health, worker health and productivity - and productivity is often identified as the single most important key to economic development."
Taylor said tobacco companies have reduced cigarette tar - the ingredient believed to be responsible for most cancers - primarily in products sold in industrialized countries or countries with restrictions. In developing countries, the tar per cigarette might still be twice that of products sold in the United States.
Only 24 percent of developing countries have placed restrictions on tobacco advertising, have required warning labels on products or have attempted to educate people on the consequences of smoking.
And tobacco companies, facing slow sales in industrialized countries, have found that concentrating advertising efforts on developing countries helps compensate for sales deficits elsewhere.
Third World people not only don't have the benefit of proper product labeling or government health restrictions, but they are oblivious to educational campaigns common in industrialized countries. Thus, Third World people continue to consume greater proportions of the world's tobacco. In the past 10 years, Africa has increased consumption by 33 percent and Latin America's consumption has increased by 24 percent. In that same time period, U.S. tobacco consumption increased by just 3 percent.
For countries looking to improve their economic status, Taylor said a smoking population works directly against their goals.
"I've looked at the impact of smoking on the quality of the work force. I've found studies that conclude that 7 percent of a worker's time is lost because of ill health. In American dollars, that's about $650 lost each year per smoking employee," he said.